Tens of thousands of Palestinians from West Bank cities have traveled to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem in order to perform the first Friday prayers of Ramadan.
Israel allowed Palestinian men aged 40 years or older to enter the mosque compound without permits, whereas women were allowed in without an age specification.
Thousands of worshippers came through Qalandia checkpoint, north of Jerusalem, and the Bethlehem checkpoint near Rachel’s Tomb’. Israel announced 550 buses for the transportation of worshippers from the checkpoints to Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday, however they did not work due to permit complications on the part of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF).
IOF tightened procedures at checkpoints around the city of Jerusalem and deployed thousands of soldiers in Jerusalem’s streets and in the Old City, restricting the movement of young men and preventing them from reaching the mosque.
A quarter of a million worshipers are expected to attend Friday prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque, made up of residents of the West Bank, 1948 lands and Jerusalem.
More than 400 citizens of the Gaza Strip managed to gain permits to attend the first Friday prayer of the holy month of Ramadan, crossing through the Beit Hanoun ‘Erez’ checkpoint in northern Gaza.
Israeli police announced on Thursday evening its intention to deploy thousands of its officers as well as special forces in East Jerusalem from early on Friday morning in order to ‘secure the Friday prayers’.
In a press release, the police said that Palestinian men over the age of 40 would be allowed to attend the prayers and that there would be no such restrictions on the entry of female worshipers.